Almost a million people will tune in over breakfast to cheer on their Fliers against England
LONDON – When Fiji’s starting XV step out onto the turf at Twickenham Stadium on Friday they will do so with the knowledge that almost a million Fijians are backing them to go all the way.
In Fiji, kick-off is at 7am on Saturday and the majority of the population is expected to gather to watch the match. Every pass and tackle will be followed closely by friends and family back home, as well as by the Fijian community in England.
In the run-up to Rugby World Cup 2015, it is this groundswell of support that is helping boost the confidence of the Flying Fijians.
Coach John McKee said the support from the Fiji fans who came to The Stoop on 6 September to cheer on the team against Canada had been phenomenal.
McKee said he believed this support, as well as social media messages from Fiji, would give the team the boost to challenge England.
“We know it gives the boys a lift,” he said. “All these little messages that come through, it gives that extra 5 to 10 per cent that we’re looking for on Friday night.
“The special ones are the ones from the people back home, for whom the Flying Fijians mean so much. It’s the messages from the people from the villages and the outlying areas in Fiji that really carry some weight with these guys because they’re the people they’re representing.”
Vice-captain Sunia Koto said rugby and community were both fundamental to Fijian culture. “It’s our lifestyle,” he said. “We really enjoy the support of the community and our families back home. That’s one of our team focuses.”
Koto said rugby was a unifying factor for the country.
“We’re a very multi-racial country. When rugby’s being played and the Fiji team plays it just unites our country. We put everything aside for that instance and when we win everybody’s happy.”
Another motivating factor for the Fiji team was that they missed Father’s Day in Fiji on Sunday. The day is an important one, particularly for Fijian Methodists, and is usually marked by a church service and a feast.
BIG DAY FOR FIJI
Captain Akapusi Qera said the team had made an effort to speak to their fathers, wives and children on Sunday morning before a church service at the team hotel at Oatlands Park in Weybridge.
“We know that it’s a big day for us in Fiji but we still have to be focused on what’s ahead for us,” Qera said. “In order to give our fathers a good present we have to perform to the best of our ability this Friday.”
So even if only a small proportion of the 80,000 spectators at Twickenham are there to support the Flyers, expect Fiji to compete as though the entire stadium was shouting their name.
- World Rugby